Mitsubishi Aircraft is working to further penetrate the European and Asia-Pacific markets, confident that these can each account for 15% of MRJ orders.
Speaking to FlightGlobal at the Farnborough air show, Mitsubishi's vice-president and general manager of sales and marketing Yugo Fukuhara said that it still expected the majority of orders to come from North America, at 40%, with Europe and Asia-Pacific (excluding China) accounting for 15% each and the rest coming from China, the Middle East and Latin America.
He argues that Europe still has the potential to absorb more regional aircraft, and notes Asia-Pacific's boom in middle-class travellers, requiring more point-to-point services.
"Europe is our immediate market, but Asia-Pacific will be for future growth. Airlines that we speak with are either looking to upguage or downguage their services."
Alex Bellamy, chief development officer and head of the programme management division for Mitsubishi Aircraft, indicates that the manufacturer has drawn inspiration from the widebody market.
"Just look at the point-to-point model with the long-haul aircraft," he says. "When you bring in a new clean-sheet that is designed and optimised for the market segment, the number of point-to-point routes also increases significantly. This is what we are trying to achieve with the MRJ."
Since ANA placed a launch order in 2008, Mitsubishi has collected firm commitments for 213 MRJs, plus options and purchase rights spanning 174 more. The six customers include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Air Mandalay and Aerolease. The backlog, however, is dominated by orders from two US regional carriers: SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Airlines. Those two carriers alone account for more than 70% of the total.
Trans States ordered 50 MRJ90s in 2009. SkyWest ordered 100 of the same type three years later; however, the carrier's executives have already said that they are unlikely to take delivery of the 76-seat MRJ90 because of pilot scope clauses limiting the weight of regional aircraft to 39t.
Yugo reveals that SkyWest, which also has 100 MRJ90s on option, can convert them to the smaller MRJ70 – the programme's scope-clause-compliant sister aircraft. The MRJ70, however, weighs less than 39t, but is listed with 69 seats in a standard two-class layout.